A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
I’ve felt myself changed simply walking
into shade along a street; I’ve come suddenly
upon the scent of snapdragon or heard
a distant car crash and found my every thought
stalled at the gate. And when I read
that honeybees are dying in thousands,
an epidemic no one can explain, I wondered,
Have I forgotten something? Who am I now?
There are theories, there are whole histories passing away,
but I can’t describe them. So, from the next table,
bits of conversation break into my soliloquy
or my neighbor’s phone rings through the walls
and I join a dialogue with a stranger. To call any of it
a change of scenery or costume is to misunderstand.
The world is not a stage and the honeybee
is not the soul it once symbolized. This is why
I’m fascinated by bricked-in windows,
old tenement buildings throughout Jersey City
with their view closed up, so I daydream
about who, on a hot summer day, leaned on that sill
breathing in the confusion of car fumes and flowers,
himself daydreaming until his elbows ached
and he remembered there was a clogged drain
in the bathroom and he turned back,
pausing for his eyes to adjust to the dark room.
Copyright 2018 Michael T. Young. First published in The Louisville Review and included in Vox Populi by permission of the author.
Michael T. Young’s new book is The Infinite Doctrine of Water published by Terrapin Books.